5 Ways to Create a Content Calendar That Works for 2021
Are you ready for 2020 to end? Wait…don’t answer that. We can already guess your response to that question.
As we put 2020 in the rearview and look ahead to what will (hopefully) be a brighter year, now is a good time to start thinking about what your content marketing program will look like in 2021. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the future is impossible to anticipate — but having a plan in place makes it easier to navigate whatever life throws your way.
The same goes for your content. As we’ve discussed on our blog in the past, consistency is key to creating a content marketing and communications program that is successful and resonates with your clients and prospects. Moreover, it’s also important to make sure your content is relevant, agile, and truly speaks to the issues your clients and prospects care about most.
Easier said than done, right?
To help make the planning process a little more manageable, we’ve compiled a list of the tips you should follow to create a content calendar that works for 2021:
1. List Your Ideal Client Niches and Personas
This relates to the “relevancy” point we mentioned above. It’s not enough to simply write a 600-word blog post every week and toss it out into the universe; you need to ensure your content resonates with your ideal client niches and personas.
For instance, if you work with medical and dental practice owners, consider the top business issues they will likely face in 2021. If you work with women in transition, consider the financial challenges that, say, the COVID-19 pandemic presents around long-term care and estate planning. You get the picture.
Try to ensure that you’re posting at least one blog or sending at least one email communication each month that ties back to your ideal client niches and personas. This will ensure you’ve covered all of your bases and that you’re speaking directly to your target audiences with tailored content.
2. Evaluate Your Analytic
Remember: it only matters if you measure it.
When choosing topics to write about in 2021, take a look at the data — for instance, your web traffic, social media platforms, and email marketing system — and analyze how your content performed over the course of 2020. Here are a few basic areas you should evaluate:
– Which content/topics garnered the highest conversion rates?
– Which content/topics garnered the highest page views and engagement?
– Which content/topics earned the most clicks in your email communications?
– Which content/topics garnered the most social media “likes” and “shares”?
Identify patterns and develop a baseline understanding of which topics or pieces of content consistently outperformed over the course of the year; conversely, identify which topics underperformed.
These insights should inform your 2021 content calendar and help you determine which areas to focus on over the coming year. In addition, this exercise will help you identify which pieces you can repurpose in 2021. For instance, you can condense one of your top-performing blogs into an engaging infographic or into a series of bite-sized, one-minute videos you can post to your social channels.
At Beyond AUM, we call this the COPE (“Create Once, Publish Everywhere”) method of content planning, as it allows you more opportunities to re-leverage your best, evergreen content over and over again.
3. Create a Consistent Schedule, But Leave Room for Flexibility
Once you’ve determined which topics to focus on and have tied them back to your ideal client niches and personas, create a realistic posting schedule that you can maintain over the course of 2021. This will help keep you accountable and consistent in the posting process.
In previous years, this would be the point where we suggest that you create a calendar 12 months out, so that you don’t have to worry about scrambling for content when you’re in the middle of busy season. And then 2020 happened — which has caused many marketers (us included) to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the 12-month schedule. Many businesses were caught by surprise in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country and priorities shifted across industries.
That’s why we recommend that you build flexibility and agility into your content calendar. Consider planning one quarter out and revisiting the calendar before the second quarter to assess whether your topics and focus are still on track. This applies to non-timely topics, as well — for instance, if your firm plans to launch a new service line in April 2021 that doesn’t come to fruition, then change gears and readjust your focus to something more applicable.
Of course, there is no crystal ball that can help you predict new changes that affect your clients and prospects — but allowing yourself to be flexible will eliminate last-minute fire-drills when disruptions do happen.
4. Get Buy-In From Your Advisory Team and Key Stakeholder
The only way for your content marketing efforts to be successful is if every single member of your firm — not just the marketing team — is bought into the plan. Once you have finished planning content for each quarter, share the calendar with your advisory team to ensure they’re comfortable with what you’re planning to write about.
This is also the perfect time for your advisory team to offer feedback on whether the topics are aligned with the discussions and questions they’re fielding from clients and prospects. You should also encourage your advisory team to share each new blog post on their personal social media accounts to increase engagement and visibility (granted this is allowed by your compliance department). This will go a long way toward helping you set a solid foundation for your content marketing efforts in 2021.
5. Ask for Feedback
Your clients are the best sources of information when determining whether your content is resonating or falling short.
Once you’ve wrapped up your second-quarter content calendar, consider sending out a digital survey to your clients asking for their feedback on the blog posts you’ve written so far. Ask leading questions like: “Which topic would you like to learn more about?” “What concerns you most heading into the second half of 2021?”
Take note of common answers and feedback, as well as recurring themes that stand out. Use these insights to develop your third- and fourth-quarter content calendars — and don’t forget to ask for more feedback before heading into 2022.
If you need help developing your content marketing program for next year, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Beyond AUM. We specialize in helping financial advisory firms like yours create and distribute content that resonates with clients and gets results. Click here to contact us today.